Category Archives: Ofcom

ITV rebuked after guest plugged travel company

Good Morning Britain was found to be in breach of the Ofcom Broadcasting Code after ‘travel icon’ Judith Chalmers was a guest on the programme and plugged a tourism company on air. The presenter’s attempts to move the interview away from a commercial plug – including by interjecting, “Sounds great” – actually came across as an endorsement, Ofcom ruled. The programme was found to be in breach of two rules on commercial promotion. The case is detailed in the Ofcom Broadcast and On Demand Bulletin number 393 (December 2019), here.

Station breached licence when building demolished

A Christian radio station was found to be in breach of its licence when it stopped broadcasting to an area of London – because its power supplier knocked down the building from which its power was supplied, without warning. The station knew noting until it went off air. It was found to have failed to alert Ofcom, which found it to be in “serious and continuing” breach of its licence.

The case is detailed in the Ofcom Broadcast and On Demand Bulletin number 393 (December 2019), here.

Sky mic picks up swearing as batsman bowled out

A stump mic used on a Sky broadcast of an Ashes cricket match picked up the sound of a batsman swearing strongly after being bowled out. Commentator David Gower was also caught swearing when he believed his mic was switched off. Sky took action to prevent a repeat of swearing being broadcast on live TV before the watershed, including monitoring audio from mics, but was still found to be in breach of the Ofcom Broadcasting Code.

The episode highlights the need to anticipate problems with live broadcasts and take steps to prevent them.

The case is set out in the Ofcom Broadcast and On Demand Bulletin number 343 (December 2019), here.

Radio host suspended over sex victim interview

Talkradio host James Whale said he was “devastated” that listeners were upset by an interview in which he challenged a sex assault victim for not pressing her case – saying her attacker could strike again. It was seen as victim-blaming. The victim was a contributor who unexpectedly revealed she had been attacked. Ofcom said Whale’s “significant lack of sensitivity” could discourage sex offence victims from talking about their experiences. The complaint was dealt with under the Harm and Offence section of the Ofcom Code. Read more.

Unbalanced: radio host’s ‘mental hospital’ jibes

Talkradio host George Galloway earned a heavy rebuke for a “biased and unbalanced” show on the Salisbury poisoning affair. Ofcom found “serious breaches” of the broadcasting code. People who disagreed with his “dissident” views were dismissed as inmates of Broadmoor Hospital, which houses criminals with mental illness. Ofcom said Galloway’s fame as a radical did not exempt it from having to achieve due impartiality. Read more.

Who regulates online video? And social media?

As of the middle of 2018, there was no regulator for social media in the UK, noted the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) in its blog on 13 July 2018. A tricky topic: is it really feasible to regulate the content of individual users? Can platforms realistically keep on top of all the content?

Across the European Union, TV and on-demand video is regulated under the Audio Visual Media Services Directive (known as the AVMS Directive). In Britain the actual work of regulating broadcast and on-demand is carried out by Ofcom.

At the start of 2019, video on newspaper and magazine websites was not regulated by Ofcom: it fell under the ambit of the print and online regulators – IPSO for most publishers. The same was true for online-only publications signed up to IPSO.

The EU could change that.

Proliferation of multi-media content meant “newspaper websites could, in theory, start to resemble video-sharing platforms,” said the IPSO blog.

But this website notes that the ethical codes for newspaper sites are nowhere near as demanding as for broadcast media.

Read the full IPSO blog post here.